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Media Release: VCC fights anti-Indigenous racism through San’yas training

Posted on September 27, 2021

VANCOUVER – In recognition of Canada’s new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept. 30), Vancouver Community College (VCC) is excited to share that 50 faculty members from the School of Health Sciences are registered to complete the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training provided by the B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), with many more registered to participate in the coming months. These participants will join the 100+ employees from across VCC who have already completed the San’yas training program.

A portion of our Health Sciences faculty registrations were made possible by a grant from the B.C. Ministry of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Thanks to additional commitments by VCC’s Indigenous Education and Community Engagement department and VCC People Services, the college is continuing to offer San’yas training opportunities to VCC staff and instructors.

“Instructors who have completed this program express having a much deeper understanding of Indigenous history and the role of cultural safety, not only in health care education, but in all instructional practices. It’s very encouraging to experience this acknowledgement of Indigenous history in post-secondary and to know it is influencing the next generation of professionals,” says Reba Noel, Dean of Indigenous Initiatives at VCC.

San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training is a set of facilitated online learning modules designed to increase understanding of Indigenous history and culture, enhance self-awareness, and give valuable context to any person working directly or indirectly with Indigenous people.

Driving this training, especially among health care workers, is the report In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care [PDF]. Commissioned by B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix and published by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in November 2020, this report unequivocally confirmed that stereotyping, prejudice, and racist treatment are common experiences for Indigenous people (especially women) in health care at all levels. This, in turn, negatively affects the overall health and wellness of Indigenous peoples in B.C.

Through the 10-hour online course, participants examine things like culture, history, and the legacies of colonization that persist today. With the help of Indigenous facilitators, participants also learn to use appropriate, meaningful terminology that respects Indigenous culture, while gaining skills to further positive and mutually beneficial interactions.

“San’yas” is a word meaning “way of knowing” in Kwak’wala, the language of the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples whose traditional, unceded lands make up northern Vancouver Island.

About Vancouver Community College

VCC has been inspiring students to reach their career and educational goals for over 50 years, offering post-secondary training in over 130 programs including bachelor's degrees, diplomas, certificates, and apprenticeships. With three campuses located in East Vancouver, Downtown, and on Annacis Island, students receive hands-on instruction in culinary arts, business, design, health sciences, hospitality, transportation trades, music, and more.

About the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)

The first organization of its kind in Canada, PHSA was established in 2001 to plan, manage, and evaluate specialty and province-wide health care services across B.C. PHSA collaborates with the five geographic health authorities to ensure access to specialized health services by providing leadership to the agencies, services, and projects under PHSA jurisdiction, and planning, coordinating, and monitoring specialized health services.


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Media can contact:

Fareedah Rasoul Kim
Marketing and Communications Officer
Vancouver Community College
T: 604.871.7538